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Where Ghouls Rush In - A Guide To Haunts

Where Ghouls Rush In - A Guide To Haunts
Chicago Tribune
October 24, 1975
Section 3 Page 1
Lynn Van Matre

SHE'S A BLOND GIRL, about 19, Polish, and with a perennial penchant for dancing. She hangs out on South Archer Avenue in a long, lacy white ballgown, and she hitchhikes. In the 1930s, she hopped on the running boards of cars, demurely requesting rides to and from dance halls. These days, she reportedly has been hopping into young men's cars at stoplights, gibbering incoherently about needing a ride - down Archer, if you please, and slow up as you go past Resurrection Cemetery.

If you've got any ideas about taking her dancing, forget it. the damsel'd a ghost, one of Chicago's most famous. Dating from the 1930s, she even has a nickname - "Resurrection Mary" - for the cemetery at 7200 S. Archer Rd., Justice, where she invariably leaps out of the car and disappears.

THE LEGEND of Mary is one of the many, involving ghosts and haunted places, that have grown up in Chicagoland over the years. Haunted cemeteries, ghostlyvisitations in churches, ghost lights, mysterious weeping, even a "disappearing house," all are part of area ghost lore collected by Chicagoan Richard Crowe, a man who spends much of his time tracking down psychic phenomena and even leads tours to "ghosts' " favorite haunts.

Crowe's found a number of sites in the area that the like-minded or just plain curious might find worth a visit (and what better time than Halloween, though none of the ghosts involved seem to pay much attention to the calendar?). But it's South Archer Avenue's famous "hitchhiking ghost" that interests him most.

HITCHHIKING GHOSTS - usually women, who beg rides from strangers and then either get out at cemeteries or disappear before the drivers' eyes - have long been staples of folklore and ghost legends throughout the world. Chicago, Crowe says, can claim at least three ethnic varieties of the phenomenon: Jewish, Mexican, and Polish.

Resurection mary, according to Crowe, hails from Resurection Cemetery and haunts Archer from South Ashland Avenue to Willow Springs.

Supposedly killed in a car wreck en route to a dance in the 30s, Mary apparently was buried in her dancing slippers and has refused to stay still ever since.

In years past, young men used to report picking up a girl fitting mary's description and taking her dancing, frequently at the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs. She'd seem frendly, they said, but a little "chilly." On the way home from the dance, the same thing happened to each of them: Mary would jump out at Resurrection Cemetery and vanish. Other men (Mary apparently has no interest in women) have reported picking her up on Archer Avenue as she tries to flag a ride "home" from a dance.

OVER THE YEARS, Mary's physical appearance has remained constant, but her mental state seems to be deteriorating; Mary, in fact, seems to be going crackers.

"Lately," Crowe says, "the reports I've gotten seem to indicate Mary's on the verge of a breakdown. She's reportedly jumped in young men's cars when they were stpped for a light on Archer, and she'd been incoherent. She acts hysterical as they ride along, then jumps out, always at the cemetery."

The most recent report Crowe has of Mary concerns an incident that occurred last Christmas season. Two boys, walking down Archer Avenue, noticed a blond girl, dressed in an old-fashioned-looking ball dress, "dancing down the street, acting weird." The kids, who'd never heard the legend, went home and told their parents. In turn, their parents, who'd grown up hearing about dancing Mary, told Crowe.